Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Should BYU become part of the Big 12 Conference?

BYU Football
On Monday, Athlete Ally, National Center for Lesbian Rights and more than 20 other LGBT organizations sent a letter to the Big 12 Conference and its member schools not to consider Brigham Young University as a new member of the conference. This is based on the university's explicit policy of discrimination against LGBT students.

Membership in the conference potentially provides an enormous advantage to schools. It virtually guarantees millions of dollars in additional television revenues due to lucrative national media contracts with the conference. The fact that BYU does not play football on Sundays requires some artful scheduling but the school is considered to be a top contender.

According to Monday's letter, the Princeton Review rates BYU as the sixth worst school for LGBT students in the nation. Its policies requiring discrimination against LGBT students include its Honor Code, which prohibits “homosexual behavior” by students and staff. This “includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings.”

It is worth noting that many young people come to terms with their sexuality during their college years. BYU remains exempt from Utah’s LGBT nondiscrimination law. An openly gay individual cannot be a BYU coach or athlete unless that person practices chastity and BYU's definition of chaste would not be acceptable for any heterosexual student. It constitutes rank, open discrimination. BYU students found to be in violation of the Honor Code can be suspended or dismissed.

All Big 12 member schools have to comply with NCAA guidelines. The NCAA requires schools to comply with Title IX. As an institution that openly discriminates against transgender students, BYU is not in compliance with Title IX. As such, it not only violates NCAA’s membership guidelines, but it also violates the Big 12’s commitment to gender equity.

I suspect that, for the Big 12 this is all about economic logic and BYU's discriminatory practices are irrelevant to the accountants. I hope that I am wrong. Denying BYU membership might cause the school to reevaluate its practices. Absent that kind of opprobrium they will remain unmotivated to divorce policy from superstition. 

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